This is part of an ongoing series of interviews with some of the world’s leading psychology and neuroscience bloggers.
How did you become a psychology/neurosci blogger?
Advances in the History of Psychology began as a collaboration between Jeremy Trevelyan Burman, a graduate student in the History and Theory of Psychology program at York University, and Christopher Green one of the program’s faculty members. As a doctoral student in the History and Theory of Psychology program working with Chris Green I became involved with the blog in May 2009 and took over as editor in September of that year. Burman’s previous TV and web production experience and the success of Green’s Classics in the History of Psychology website and This Week in the History of Psychology podcast series each served as catalysts for the creation of the blog. While I currently edit the blog and Green and I contribute posts, we also have to occasional contributors: the blog’s founding editor, Jeremy Burman and another student in the History and Theory of Psychology program, Jennifer Bazar.
What’s your blog’s mission?
Advances in the History of Psychology was launched in 2007 as a venue for bringing together history of psychology related news, resources, and discussion. More particularly, we seek to inform our readers of the most recent publications, conferences, and general news pertaining to the history of the psychology. Our audience includes both those with a general interest in the history of psychology and those who do historical work on psychology themselves or teach on the subject. Of broad appeal, are the interesting historical tidbits related to the discipline’s past that we unearth. Regular posts announcing recent publications and conferences related to the field appeal to a somewhat more limited audience, mainly those who do work in the history of psychology themselves.
How does your blogging affect your day job?
Blogging about the history of psychology while working on a degree in the field is a rather ideal pairing. Prior to blogging I would seek out various developments in the history of psychology simply for my own edification. Now each development I come across, and actively seek out, gets filed away for the blog. Ultimately, searching out information in my own field to blog about is a great way to keep abreast of new developments and to continue to expand my own knowledge of the discipline’s past.
What are your weapons of choice – i.e. what blogging platform / hardware do you use and why?
With multiple contributors, an easy to use blogging platform is a necessity. We currently use WordPress and while it is not without its issues, it is user-friendly enough that we have managed to avoid any major disasters.
What advice do you have for any budding psychology bloggers out there?
Making the blogging process as easy for yourself as possible. If blogging is hard to do, you just won’t do it. In addition to easy to use blogging software, one of the most straightforward ways to make the process easier is to blog about what you know. For us this means blogging about the history of psychology while doing the history of psychology.
What blogs do you read (list up to five)?
While there are a number of excellent psychology and neuroscience blogs on my blog roll, I thought I would focus on a few of the blogs that take a more historical bent. For instance, the recently begun H-Madness, which focuses on the history of madness, mental illness, and treatment and is written by a group of established international scholars, provides an interesting counterpoint to our blog.
The All in the Mind blog, which accompanies the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s radio programme on all things mental, often features interesting additional information on the topics covered in the radio program, many of which are historical.
And finally, Vaughn Bell’s Mind Hacks deserves a nod for not only being an excellent read, but also regularly featuring posts related to the history of psychology.
What books or other traditional media are you reading at the moment? (up to five)
I am currently reading Harold J. Cook’s Matters of Exchange: Commerce, Medicine, and Science in the Dutch Golden Age.
Also on my summer reading list is John Carson’s The Measure of Merit: Talents, Intelligence, and Inequality in the French and American Republics, 1750-1940, which recently won the International Society for the History of Behavioral and Social Sciences Cheiron Book Prize. I will also soon be re-reading the 2008 Cheiron Book Prize winner, The Averaged American: Surveys, Citizens, and the Making of a Mass Public by Sarah Igo.
And finally, what blog post of yours are you most proud of and why?
Some of our most popular posts have been those on psychologists’ experimentation with hallucinogens, undoubtedly an attractive topic for students looking into the history of psychology for the first time. Also popular, are posts related to various replications of Stanley Milgram’s obedience to authority experiment that have taken place in recent years, including a recent Milgram-esque French game show. Yet, one of the posts that attracted the most discussion (Presentism in the Service of Diversity?) was on a completely different topic: what are the boundaries of the history of psychology and how do we set these boundaries? Even though the post was before my time, witnessing sustained discussion on such an admittedly academic topic was gratifying.